Understanding Subject Access Requests (SARs) and How to Submit Them

Understanding Subject Access Requests (SARs) and How to Submit Them

…By Henry George for TDPel Media.

The discussions surrounding revisions in the UK started when the former UKIP leader made a subject access request.

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This request granted him access to a comprehensive 40-page dossier containing information about himself.

The documents revealed that the bank, Coutts, had severed ties with him due to “commercial” reasons and concerns about his political stance, prompting an apology from the NatWest Group boss, who owns Coutts.

Let’s delve deeper into what a subject access request entails and how customers can submit one.

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What is a Subject Access Request (SAR)?

Subject access requests (SARs) are a right provided to British citizens through the Data Protection Act of 1998. This right empowers individuals to request and obtain a copy of all the personal information an organization possesses about them.

This includes access to reports, emails mentioning them, and other relevant data, with certain exemptions excluded.

SARs are increasingly utilized by employees who take legal action against their employers, seeking evidence of misconduct or prejudice.

Additionally, customers may submit SARs when they believe their personal data has been mishandled.

It can also be a means to understand the reasoning behind specific decisions made by a company concerning an individual.

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How to Submit a Subject Access Request

Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, organizations can no longer charge individuals for submitting a SAR, except in cases where the request is deemed “manifestly unfounded or excessive” or if the organization wants to reduce the response deadline from 40 days to one month. Generally, submitting a SAR is free.

To file a subject access request, the process is relatively straightforward.

The first step is to identify the appropriate department or staff member to contact, such as a data protection officer.

Inform them, either in written or verbal format, of the specific information you seek from the company.

It is advisable to use written communication, such as emails or letters, as it facilitates tracking.

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In your request, include essential details such as your full name, address, contact information, and any relevant account numbers or particulars related to your inquiry.

Furthermore, mention that the law requires the company to respond within a specific timeframe, and emphasize that under the Data Protection Act 2018, you are not obligated to pay a fee for the request.

Conclusion

Subject access requests (SARs) are an essential tool in upholding data protection rights for British citizens.

By understanding what information organizations hold about them, individuals can safeguard their personal data and ensure it is handled responsibly.

The ability to submit a SAR without charges, except in exceptional cases, empowers customers to hold companies accountable and protect their privacy in the digital age.

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